How Can I Improve My Immunity to Infection

As I write this blog the world is in the grip of a pandemic. The UK has 456 confirmed cases of coronavirus and panic buying has stripped the supermarket shelves of essentials such as toilet rolls. I am mindful that the word pandemic contains the word panic.

I read a news article today which highlighted a case of a 103-year-old grandmother who has recovered from coronavirus after 6 days of treatment in Wuhan, China. Her doctor told the local press that ‘she did not have many underlying health conditions.’ She was in a critical condition on arrival and could barely speak.

Said another member of staff, she ‘gradually recovered after being given round-the-clock care and nutrition therapy sessions.’ This got me to thinking about what else I could do to improve my immunity to infection? Aside from good genes and a large dose of luck, did she have any other secrets?

The article also reported that, in the words of the matron ‘the grandmother loved being complimented by the nurses,’ and ‘she would smile and nod every time after I told her she looked pretty.’

Scientific research is revealing the link between positive emotions and a healthy immune system. In one study 350 participants were deliberately given the common cold. Before the experiment researchers asked them to rate their experience of positive emotions. Five days after exposure those who had the highest range of positive emotions also showed the lowest rate of infection.

Deepak Chopra talks about reducing stress, citing the link between exam stress and reduced immunity to illness.

Suggestion: Find time for those activities or beliefs that give you real pleasure?

On the topic of nutrition Chopra also reminds us to look after our gut health, pointing out that our microbiome (gut) is the centre of our immune system. If you wish to read more about this, ‘The Diet Myth’ by Professor Tim Spector is a great starting point.

Suggestion: Prof. Spector recommends improving your gut health through probiotic products such as kefir (fermented yoghurt drink) and kombucha (a fermented tea).

A recent article on trials of Traditional Chinese Medicine to combat COVID-19 in Wuhan shared some of their treatment protocols. The authors were keen to stress that they ‘are not to be used in place of Western medicine, rather they are to be integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan utilizing both Western and Chinese medicine.’ What particularly caught my attention was a proposal for acupuncture treatment for suspected cases, located under the title ‘prevention phase’. The text says that

The purpose is to strengthen the immune system,  to help alleviate early symptoms, and to shorten the duration of the virus.

The approach is consistent with ancient theories taught at acupuncture school. It is interesting too to note that many of my acupuncture patients remark how they seem to catch fewer common colds after a course of treatment, even when the rest of their office are coughing and sneezing. Could this be coincidence?


My remarks here assume that you are taking appropriate medical advice for any underlying conditions and following latest public health guidance. I offer no guarantee or crystal ball. Mine is simply the dialogue of curiosity offered with humility and honesty.

Martin Dean is a Nottingham, UK based acupuncturist with 25 years experience. To book an appointment please call 07 969 413158